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Guest Blog: Increasing Mileage Safely for Distance Running

TriBlogsby TriBlogsNov 19th 2012
Todays Guest blog is written by highly experienced endurance coach Neil Scholes of Kinetic-Revolution. Neil¬'s areas of specialty include: Marathon Coaching; Triathlon and Ironman Coaching; Running and Swimming Video Analysis/Technique Coaching. If you are thinking of running longer next season then this is a great blog to add to your distance running tool box.
Guest Blog:  Increasing Mileage Safely for Distance Running

Increasing Mileage Safely for Distance Running

Training adaptations are achieved through systematically overloading the physiological systems that determine performance. The training overload can be determined in terms of duration/distance, frequency and intensity. Training duration defines the length of each training session and can be measured as simply as using a watch or if you have a GPS unit or known route to measure distance.

Distance is a good measure of how much work you are doing as a runner. It costs just about the same amount of energy to run 6 miles in 40 minutes as it does to run 6 miles in 60 minutes; you¬'re doing the same amount of work ¬- only the rate is different. So a 6 hour marathon runner is truly doing the same work as Paula Radcliffe - just at a different rate of work. Slower runners spend more time accumulating the impact of the same mileage covered by faster runners; and more time on the road means more foot strikes, more landing impact and a greater chance for increased fluid loss through sweat, elevated body temperature and impact related injury. Thus although mileage is a useful starting point to log it is also very useful to keep a track of total time spent running.

When you are looking to increase your mileage and stay injury free when leading up to a longer event you must balance the stress of running and the reaction on your body, the law of diminishing return and the benefits of correct running form. The former states that training produces changes throughout your body that over time allow you to do that daily run with less discomfort (and probably quicker!). Your muscles become stronger, your blood flow is increased. You develop a lower resting heart rate, lower blood pressure, lose body fat and lose body weight ¬- what¬'s not to love about this! These are the reactions to the stress you impose by running and it is these reactions that will determine how prepared you are to handle more stress ¬- ie increased mileage.

The second principle is that as training and mileage increases the benefit decreases. This doesn¬'t mean training decreases fitness; it means that the fitness increases later in training are not as great as those gained earlier in the training. So if a runner doubles their mileage from 10 miles a week to 20 miles a week they do not double the benefits. Training harder and harder results in less and less total improvement however before you all stop training ¬- even those small improvements may pay off if you are looking to break a PB and it truly is the difference between coming first and second.

To increase mileage safely the runner must balance the Holy Trinity of run technique. They must ensure that that they have an appropriate balance of Technique and Posture, Strength and Stability and Mobility and Flexibility. Having these weapons in their armoury will ensure a safe, injury free campaign to their next distance race.

In terms of how to increase mileage I would recommend staying at a set mileage for 3 weeks before increasing that mileage. This will give your body the chance to adjust to and benefit from that training stress before you increase the stress to a new level. When it is time to increase your mileage then add to your mileage the number of runs you are doing. So what do I mean by that? Well a runner who is doing 5 runs a week can increase her mileage by 5 miles and a runner who is doing 3 runs a week can increase hers by 3 miles a week. The runner will then stay at this new level for 3 weeks.

So for a runner looking to do a half marathon I would recommend building up to a long run of about 85% or 11 miles. If they say start from running a total of 3 runs a week with a TOTAL mileage of 10 miles (split as say two 3 mile runs and a 4miler) then to get to their peak of say 3 runs a week as (a 5 miler, a 7 mile run and a long run of 11- Total 23 miles) prior to their taper then this would take 4 iterations of increase which with the 3 weeks held at a specific weekly mileage would take them 12 weeks. Add a couple of weeks taper and you have a 14 build to a great and safe half marathon that will limit the impact on your body.

Neil can be contacted at or visit
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